GDC 2012

CD Projekt co-founder: "I don’t want The Witcher to be sold by crappy stores"

Owen Hill at

"I don’t want Witcher to be sold by crappy stores which don’t care about the consumers." That's what the impressively titled Marcin Iwinski - co-founder, Member of the Board and Business Development at CD Projekt Group - had to say at GDC last week.

The diversity of video game retailers is a contentious issue at the moment. UK retail chain GAME's share prices are at an all-time low. If the cover of industry magazine, MCV is anything to go by, they're already dead. Marcin has been predicting the decline for years: "It’s funny because I’m speaking at the conferences, lectures and whatnot for the last six years of saying 'digital, digital, digital' and nothing happened. Then... kaboom! We're at the tipping point and off we go."

Battlefield 3 producer on Battlelog: “We honestly believe this is the right way forward”

Owen Hill at

We’ve been talking to DICE executive producer Patrick Bach about Battlelog - Battlefield 3’s answer to server browsers. It lets players recruit friends into your squad and specify a server to play on, all from the comfort of a browser window. Once everything is in order, Battlefield 3 loads up you session and waits politely to be clicked.

We asked why DICE opted for the feature (which Graham described as a " bit mad") when talking to him a few hours ago: “We look at players when they’re playing a game. Then we try to take that behaviour and turn it into our next iteration.” he told us.

“We could see people were starting the game, loading the map,” says Patrick. Then they would start reading a paper or they look at their watch: they don’t want to be [in-game] during that, they just want the match, and their pre-match activities.”

PC Gamer US Podcast #308: GDC 2012 Recap

PC Gamer at

Evan, Josh, Tyler and Chris reflect on our week of coverage, talks, and appointments at the Game Developers Conference right here in our backyard of San Francisco. That includes MechWarrior Online, Valve's "History of TF2" talk, the infamous Steam Box, SimCity, PlanetSide 2, and (duh) Mass Effect 3. Josh also checks in about the SWTOR guild summit, reported on in more detail here.

PC Gamer US Podcast 308: GDC 2012 Recap

Line of Defense explained by Derek Smart: "It's not the game everyone else is doing"

Tyler Wilde at

Derek Smart, president and lead developer of 3000AD, has a lot of ambitious ideas swirling around in his head. He talked almost continuously for 45 minutes yesterday as he took me on a tour of his latest creation: MMOFPS Line of Defense.

Cliff Bleszinski to indies: "go with the PC"

Owen Hill at

As reported on Kotaku and RPS, Epic’s Cliff Bleszinski has been talking up PC development at E3.

The Gears of War developer reckons PC should be the first port of call for upcoming indies, pointing out that it's a less restrictive platform than console and mobile. “Xbox Live and PSN, skip both of them because you’re at Sony or Microsoft’s will as to what’s on the dashboard.” he said. “iOS, maybe but you have to have Apple’s approval. There’s way to much piracy on Android. No-one has a Windows phone.

Valve on Portal 2's original opening, ideas for its many endings and the "Morgan Freeman sphere"

Tom Senior at

Not all of Valve's discarded ideas are great, the binned competitive multiplayer mode for Portal 2 is one such example, but some of them are. The video above is from a Valve talk at GDC in which they discussed many of the ideas that never made it into the full game. This scene was originally Portal 2's opening.

There were many more great ideas left on the drawing board. In fact, the whole game was set to pan out very differently. Eurogamer sat in on the conference, and describe out Wheatley was originally supposed to stay dead when Glados crushes him near the beginning. Rather than being a persistent companion, he was merely the first in a series of personality spheres you'd meet as you travelled through Aperture's labs. Other spheres included a paranoid AI and one that Valve's Eric Wolpaw calls "The Morgan Freeman sphere."

Civilization V: Gods & Kings interview with lead designer Ed Beach

Tyler Wilde at

Yesterday at GDC, we had the chance for a brief interview with lead designer Ed Beach about the upcoming Civilization V: Gods & Kings expansion. The add-on will include new religion and espionage systems, nine new civilizations, over 27 new units, new buildings, new wonders, new natural wonders, new scenarios, and new resources. That’s a lot of new, but our biggest take-away from the interview is that the expansion isn’t just about adding, but also improving the existing AI, multiplayer, and balance. That's great to hear.

Steam Box: the truth, direct from Valve

Owen Hill at

Remember the Steam Box that was rumoured to be announced at GDC? The one that was supposed to sit under your TV and use biometric signals to shape your games? We’ve been squeezing the truth out of Valve.

“Yeah, of course it’s a big story and obviously, it doesn’t surprise me that you asked the question.” said Doug Lombardi, Vice President of Marketing at Valve, when quizzed about its existence.

Romero: upcoming indies should stop "waiting for permission"

Owen Hill at

Loot Drop's John Romero has been offering advice for upcoming indies during the "Back to the Garage: The Return of Indie Development (From Those Who Were There and Some Who've Just Arrived)" talk at GDC. Romero has previously worked on Wolfenstein 3D, DOOM and Quake, and is regarded as one of the first ever indie developers. He says these days there's too much too much procrastinating and not enough developing going on.

"This whole getting a job question, it hasn't really changed that much since the 80’s," he said.

Industry legends share their gaming inspirations

Owen Hill at

“It's not about what you show on the screen, it's what you cause to appear in the player's imagination.”

That’s what Firaxis’ Sid Meier took from The Seven Cities of Gold, a game he lists as a major inspiration. “Even today ... it's still the player's imagination that's the most powerful tool we can stimulate and use to bring the experience to life,” he says.

As reported on Gamasutra, Side Meier, John Romero, Will Wright and Cliff Bleszinski have been talking gaming inspirations at GDC.

Valve experimented with Portal 2 competitive multiplayer. Ended up "super chaotic but no fun"

Owen Hill at

Valve's Chet Faliszek and Eric Wolpaw conducted a Portal 2 postmortem at GDC last night. The writers talked candidly about alternate endings and the difficulties of following up on their critically acclaimed first game. Chet also mentioned that, at some point in development, the team experimented with competitive Portal 2 multiplayer modes.

Skyrim takes Game of the Year at the GDC awards. Portal 2 scoops a triple

Owen Hill at

Last night the 12th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards took place in San Francisco. The awards ceremony celebrates the "creativity, artistry and technical genius of the finest developers and games." It was hosted by Epic’s Cliff Bleszinski.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim brought home the bacon with Game of the Year, but Portal 2 brought home three different types of bacon: Game Design, Best Audio and Best Narrative. Fledgling developers Super Giant took recieved two awards for the innovative Bastion: Best Debut and Best Downloadable Game. Battlefield 3 took Best Technology, but not best Visual Arts which was awarded to PS3’s Uncharted 3. Boo!

The 14th Annual Independent Games Festival Awards happened before the show. They’re about encouraging innovation and recognisng the best indie devs about. Our Tom was nominated for his excellently designed indie, Gunpoint. He was pipped to the post by one of his favourite game designers, Derek Yu, though so I doubt he’s that upset. Fez took the coveted Seumas McNally Grand Prize.

Click through for the list of nominees and winners. Congratulations to everyone involved!

Behind the scenes of Star Wars: The Old Republic: throwing people at the problem

Tim Edwards at

Building Star Wars: The Old Republic was hard. That was the message from a startling and searingly honest talk given by director of production, Dallas Dickinson and Bioware executive producer Richard Vogel during this year’s GDC. In an hour long session, the pair took us through the production and lessons from a long and gruelling development process that saw Bioware Austin hire huge numbers of developers, outsource much of their art, completely rebuild how their team was integrated, and eventually make strict cuts to game features in a triage process known internally as “The Death Star”.

Richard and Dallas began with the high level goals of The Old Republic: to reach 1,000,000 subscribers, and to innovate carefully, by introducing Bioware’s expertise in storytelling to MMORPGs. Richard explained that they weren’t intending to revolutionise MMOs, just make them better in key areas. “If you offer nothing different, you fail. But we are an MMORPG. We have to have the core MMORPG feel. Our players have to feel familiar as soon as they start.”

Notch: "If someone copies your game a trillion times, you won't have lost a single cent"

Owen Hill at

Notch has just finished his "Fireside Chat" with Chris Hecker at GDC. It sounds cosy, but that didn't stop the Minecraft creator taking on the thorny issue of piracy towards the end of the talk.

"If someone copies your game a trillion times, you won't have lost a single cent," said Notch. "Some people are using that to ruin the internet."

Deus Ex: Human Revolution designer on boss fights: "we are truly sorry"

Owen Hill at

Game designer at Square Enix, Francois Lapikas, has been talking Deus Ex: Human Revolution at GDC. We love that game. Tom even awarded it an outstanding 94%

Tom hates one bit of Human Revolution though: the boss fights. "They are terrible. And they cannot be avoided." he said in his review. "The game is so conflicted about this that there’s even a Steam achievement for completing it without killing anyone, which apologetically adds that boss fights don’t count." Ouch.

Unexpectedly, some of the design team agree. Francois has offered a sincere apology for the four bosses that featured in Human Revolution.

The frustrating reality of Medal of Honor: Warfighter

Tim Edwards at

There’s a mounted gun bit in the demo for Medal of Honor that was on display at GDC last night. It’s a spectacular piece of entertainment, a real showcase of what the tech they’re using to make the game can do. You’re driving along on a dingy as waves lash a flooded Thai city. You’re ferrying rescued aid workers to an extraction point where you’re met by two transport helicopters. They hover, and, in a cutscene, your character attaches ropes to the base of the choppers and you’re lifted away into the sunset.

Planetside 2 creative director predicts an MMOFPS renaissance: "they’re really difficult to make, so good luck”

Owen Hill at

Planetside 2 excitement is hitting an all time high. There’s 30 minutes of footage and a bunch of new screens here, which you should almost definitely watch. It’s like a beautiful dream coming true. A massively multiplayer FPS dream with magnificent scale, day/night cycles, vehicles and jetpacks.

Creative director, Matt Higby is just as excited as the rest of us. "It always blows my mind that there aren't more MMO FPSs" he says, after showing a live demo at GDC.

Kickstarter has raised an incredible amount of money for games: numbers inside

Tim Edwards at

In the three years that Kickstarter has existed, it’s had a dramatic effect on how indie games are developed. For indie devs it’s a lifeline: they get to work full-time on producing a game. For players: they get to influence what games get made, and support their favourite developers directly.

What hasn’t been seen is just how successful Kickstarter has been. At GDC, Cindy Au, gave indie devs an insight into how game projects are performing on the site. The takeaway: really, really well.

Medal of Honor: Warfighter debut trailer confirms October release date

Owen Hill at

EA have just released a trailer for the previously announced Medal of Honor: Warfighter. The upcoming shooter is being developed by Danger Close and will use the Frostbite 2 engine. It's getting a worldwide release on October 23rd.

I've embedded the debut trailer below. It features whispers, ACOGs, helicopters, boats, bullets, feet and hats; all within a few seconds of each other. You'll also hear distorted drones that remind me of another EA franchise. Funny that.

Far Cry 3 will incorporate elements of the indie scene and social games

Owen Hill at

As reported on VG247, Ubisoft Massive are developing Far Cry 3's multiplayer component. Their previous work includes the Ground Control and World in Conflict series. They also helped out on Assassin's Creed: Revelations.

A few snippets of info have leaked out of GDC via Twitter. Vox game editor Brian Crecente says that Massive are incorporating an "online universe" and adding "elements from the social scene and indie games." Intriguing.